As my long-suffering friends on Facebook are all too aware, I am a little obsessed with tomatoes. I have a small vegetable garden and from mid-July on all I do is post pictures of tomatoes. It’s not that I’m an accomplished gardener: tomatoes, peppers and herbs are pretty much all I can grow. Tomatoes are easy. And they’re particularly easy when you grow as many as I do: I neglect them terribly but get a good yield most summers from volume alone (and I have a theory that my neglect pushes each plant to put all its got into the smaller than would be normal output it manages due to my lack of feeding, watering and weeding). Tomatoes become a major part of our diet in August and September: we eat them as caprese, as salsa, as gazpacho, as raw and cooked tomato sauces, as oven-dried tomatoes, and I can and freeze a lot of sauce and roasted tomatoes too. This summer, however, I’ve begun to put them into tuna poke, which is yet another easy and great summer “salad”.
I first ate poke (rhymes with okay) in Hawaii almost exactly twenty years ago and it took me an embarrassingly long time to get around to making it at home. It’s very easy, very quick and very healthy, and all kinds of variations are possible (though I don’t like to get too complicated or too far away from its basic Hawaiian origins). Here are the two (slight) variations I have been making this summer.
- 1 lb ahi, cut into chunks
- 1 lb heirloom tomatoes, cut into chunks
- 2 small shishito peppers, seeded and minced
- 3 tblspns light soy sauce
- 2 tblspns sesame oil
- 3-4 small rectangles of seasoned laver or seaweed sheets
- 2 tblspns minced cilantro
- A big squeeze of lime
- Salt and pepper
As above but with slightly less tomato and about a cup of seeded and diced watermelon
- Mix all the ingredients in a big bowl and chill for an hour or two.
- Two of us eat this as a meal. You could make the same amount as a starter for 4-6 people. Or you could possibly serve it over steamed rice as a meal for four people.
- Sometimes I add a tablespoon or two of minced sweet onion too.
- This summer I’ve been using Old German and Marizol Purple tomatoes for this.
- Oh, a lot of sites will tell you to use sashimi grade tuna. By all means, you should if you can find it easily and not too ruinously expensively. This summer, however, I’ve been using Costco’s frozen ahi tuna. My reasoning is that this is flash frozen at sea (cold enough to kill parasites) and perfectly safe. We’re yet to feel any ill effects. You do give up on the lustrous red colour of “fresh” sashimi grade tuna though—frozen ahi’s colour dulls with time.